In 1995, aged 12, Herbert Kinobe graced his first international stage in the Netherlands. That was when the young musician, who was travelling with his school ensemble realised his potential to sing.
Since then, a combination of passion, good will and integrity have propelled the singer-song writer to the top of the world music scene, gracing more international stages with some of Africa’s biggest stars including Angelique Kidjo, Salif Keita, Baaba Maal and Oliver Mtukudzi.
Born in a family of six children, Kinobe is the second born. His eldest brother, Dr Damsacus Kafumbe is a music professor in the United States, while his two young brothers, James Kiwuwa and Richard Sewagudde are part of The Wamu Spirit, his current touring programme.
“I have two sisters, Miriam Nakiyingi, a student and singer with Global Choir in Vancouver, Canada and Esther Ntabadde a singer and fashion designer living in Uganda. We grew up singing in church with our parents Ruth and Fred Serunkuma,” the gifted multi-instrumentalist-writer says.
Growing up, he admired bands such as Big 5 and Percussion Discussion Africa. That is how he became part of a new generation of musicians that brought young people closer to world music, which has grown enormously in the country.
“Some of my fondest childhood memories were making music instruments from tins, papyrus reed and bottles tops. But because we were surrounded by traditional music at home, it was easy for me to start singing while younger,” he says. A master of traditional instruments such as the adungu and endongo, his is music with a purpose. Through it, he tells people’s stories, pains, joys and concerns.
“It is a blend of sounds from all across Africa and influences from all over the world with an intention of creating a more unified global world. I sing about social issues, political consciousness, unity and love in a rich unique context, away from the usual way that it is expressed.”
Through music, Kinobe seeks to bring change and encourage peace, unity and love for the environment. “I have continued to be a music ambassador overseas where this music is desired so I hope that I have inspired many,” he says.
The Kinobe and Wamu Spirit tour is focused on building a path for a new Africa, a continent with peace, freedom, justice and making it a place where its people can celebrate and enjoy the beauty it has.
“When musicians Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Tracy Chapman, Peter Gabriel, Youssou Ndour and Paul Simon launched a campaign against apartheid in the early 90s, and mounted pressure on the South African government then, Nelson Mandela was released and apartheid was defeated,” Kinobe, who is not afraid to express his view on the political affairs of Uganda, says. “When people get tired and angry, anything can happen but music can diffuse that tension. We intend to play this music all over the world. We have to help Africa dream again.”
Some of his recent songs such as Power chair, Kadogo and Freedom, talk about current leaders in across Africa who cling to power for life and in the process bring pain to many people, have gained international acclaim.
Although he doesn’t have any qualms about Ugandan musicians expressing themselves in the light of recent political affiliations, Kinobe, who looks up to God for guidance, says the question should be more about integrity.
“If we have to tell lies, misinform people intentionally and support what we know is the reason for our “demise” as a country, then artistes need to think twice. There is more to music than just making money, fame, sex, drugs and Swag! Music should promote fairness, positive social values and national Unity,” he concludes.
HIS AICE TO UGANDA MUSICIANS
“We should do music live and get away from miming over a CD because there is no talent in miming,” he says.
“Ugandans should read, research and educate themselves on what’s happening first of all around the country, including the rural areas and then internationally. We should also learn to be original and authentic. People out there are interested in listening to the uniqueness of Uganda and not counterfeited versions of their music.”
SOURCE: DAILY MONITOR